Off the Shelf
Leave a comment


“He is beyond the help of human aid”
He quoted from the big book
He stared directly at me as he spoke
And that one line was all it took

All it took for me to really feel
The place he was coming from
The deep, dark horror stories of his past
Now here to show how far he’d come

This Saturday night AA meeting
Had really hit my emotions hard
But it was what he said next
That really caught me off guard

“You are powerless”
He said to my determined face
“A doctor cannot help someone like me”
He continued to make his case

Beyond the help of human aid
Means my years of training will have no effect
This idea was unsettling to me
A concept I wanted to reject

How would I not be able to help?
Helping was the point of my education
He went on to explain himself
Evidently sensing my frustration

“Alcoholism is an illness
But one that cannot be cured”
The recovery process is a journey
In which doctors have a role, he assured

Doctors can learn to understand
What the twelve steps aim to do
But it is not us who cause the change
It is the alcoholic who must see the steps through

“Turn our will and our lives over to the care of God”
He read aloud step number three
He recited step number seven as well
Insisting, “You cannot do these things for me”

He thanked me for coming to AA
And seeking out where alcoholics are found
But is me who should thank him
For teaching me something so profound

I must accept that I am powerless
That medicine and science will not always win
But trust, understanding, patience, and love
Is where my responsibilities begin

Alyssa Rothman Alyssa Rothman (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine

Alyssa Rothman is a Class of 2018 medical student at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. She graduated from MIT with a degree in biology. Her hobbies include volleyball, traveling, and discovering new dessert places.